dad’s column for the kenner star. god i love this man.
By Ed Clancy
Notice: Spoiler alert. This column is for kids over ten only!
For at least two Christmas Eves, my youngest, Elisabeth, who was around six or seven, slept under the Christmas tree. She insisted that she wanted to be there so she could make sure Santa ate his cookies and drank his milk, but I’m pretty sure she wanted to make sure it was really Santa and not her father pretending to be Santa. At any rate, this made it really difficult for Santa to unload his bag without waking up my daughter. It was especially difficult the year Santa brought her a bicycle as well as one for his older sister, Alex.
To make sure that Liz, (her preferred name), was fast asleep, Santa, (not my preferred name), waited until at least three in the morning to arrive. (FYI, I did not dress as Santa).
I considered it one of the major accomplishments of my life that I was able to place every gift, big and small under the tree while my little cherub dreamed of sugar plums. Not once did I step on her little stomach or stub my toe on her head. However, wheeling those bikes over to the tree without a noise was a magic feat.
The next year she could not be talked out of sleeping under the tree. She was determined to surprise Santa in the act and this time the adventure had a new wrinkle. She made a giant sign out of white poster board and taped it up on the living room wall. The sign had various pictures she had drawn along with a list of what she wanted for Christmas. It was a very nice present for Santa, but he was not allowed to take it with him because at the bottom of the poster was a place for Santa to sign his name to prove that he had been there. That was an even bigger challenge for Santa than the bicycles because I had to make the signature look as much un-like mine as possible. When I was done placing the presents under the tree, I had to climb up on the couch and sign the huge affidavit. I decided to use a script I learned in grade school – calligraphy. That’s the kind of writing the monks used to copy the Bible. I finished writing “Santa Claus” in my best ancient lettering and retired for the evening with my baby girl none the wiser. So I thought, until many years later when she claimed she knew all the time it was my writing. To this day I do not believe her.
Now, allow me to describe another, perhaps more important, ritual between my daughters and me: The letter to Santa.
The night before each Christmas, no matter where we were, at home in Kenner or at Grandma’s in Texas, the girls would write their letters to Santa. If it was really close to midnight I would take up the letters and say, “ I’ll be back soon,” and then breathlessly run out to the car and drive away, off to the post office to make my postal delivery. Of course, I never actually went to the post office, except for one year in Texas when Liz insisted on going with me. When we got there I had to explain that, although it was closed, Santa’s elves would come by and pick up his mail. I even made a good show of putting the letters in the box while actually putting them in my pocket.
Not long ago, I was thrilled when I came across three of the letters written by Liz and one written by Alex, all of them decorated with drawings, good and awful. Get out your Kleenex. (Spelling will be exactly as it appears in the letters).
Dear Sata C.
Can I pleas have sum of these thing’s!
1. Poll-pocket, And 2. rain-bow bright
3. and headset for my sister
4. don’t wack up daddy
And if you have time can you PLEAS bring a real town car for my mommy and daddy.
for poor kid’s 1. girl cloths 2. boy cloths 3. girl doll 4. boy train traick 5.girl Christmas tree 6. boy Christmas tree 7. and ordmints [Me: ornaments??]
From Elisabeth age 6
For this next one Liz was probably seven. Her handwriting is better.
To Santa Clause,
How are you? I’m fine, hows Mrs.Clause? These follwing items I want for Christmas.
Moon shoes that you can jump with, a Polly Pocket pop up house & Starcastle teapot set. By the way hows Comet and Cupid doing? Love, Elisabeth Clancy.
This one from Liz is short and messy but unselfish:
1. Easy backe uven for me!
For pore kid’s every boy and girl PLEAS!
1. boy bear 2. girl Pup 3. boy toy train 4. girl doll 5.boy bick 6. girl Colors 7. boy cares and truck.
The lone example I have from sister Alex is sloppy but sincere and shows her knowledge of reindeer.
Dear Santa, where are you?
I had fun sitting on your lep. [Me: that’s right, lep].
I can name all of your reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.
Here is what I want for Christmas. I love you Santa
For her list, Alex used drawings, really crude even for a five-year-old. The drawings consisted of a water baby, a TV, some type of animal, two earrings, a bunk bed and a Suzie Snapshot.
And, finally, I found something that shows Liz is not one to leave things to chance. The following note was found tucked under her pillow.
Dear Tooth Fairy, I lost my tooth. I was carring it in a napcin and droped it.
The tooth fairy must have bought her excuse. Liz found a quarter there – yes, a quarter! – the next morning.
For some reason I feel a little tired. It must be from deciphering all those letters. I’m going to bed now. Please don’t wack up Daddy.